How to finish the year well

Find clarity in a noisy world

Christmas is loud in our house – cousins, board games, reunions and all the feels from a year packed with commitments. After Boxing Day, cricket games are left lingering, and there are moments when we struggle to remember the date and day. The moments blur.

Hours merge when our brains have time to decompress from the year’s tasks, details and rhythms. The southern hemisphere encounters the heat of summer and our northern hemisphere friends snuggle around the fire as winter finds them retreating.

Most of the world takes some time to reset. It is a sacred time of the year if we slow down with courage. The hardest part is surrendering to the sabbath that the season offers, making meaning with perspective from the season that has passed. The quiet practices are the ones that shape us profoundly. Yet, we struggle to allow them to slow our minds.

Each year, I have asked myself a series of questions that slow down the season and bring foresight into the decisions for the coming year.

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

How do we reflect on a season that has carried with it brutal global stories?

How do we make sense of a year of change and conflict?

We must allow ourselves to reframe the failures, find insight from the opportunities and indeed be honest with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable …” (Philippians 4:18).

Philippians chapter four reminds us of the need for gentle rhythms that change our days’ pace, perspective and clarity. Each year, I have asked myself a series of questions that slow down the season and bring foresight into the decisions for the coming year.

This retreat practice has changed my life. The rhythm of our everyday lives impacts the shape of our future. Yet, as a society, we do not give much time to pause and reflect. Journalling and reviewing your year can be valuable for emotional resilience, personal growth and self-reflection. This practice is essential, especially in a year when there has been so much global fatigue from the change, worry and compassion for the stories of others.

I believe in the power of personal retreating; here are some of the proven benefits of this yearly retreat review process.

Why a personal retreat will change your 2024!

Journalling and reviewing your year can help you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions. This self-awareness can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself, your values and your goals. Leadership must be graced with the humility of self-awareness of our own needs and desire for growth.

Future vision:

By reflecting on the past year, you can assess your progress toward your goals. This can help you set a more realistic and achievable vision for the coming year and make necessary adjustments to your plans. It also helps us find a way to listen more carefully to what God draws us towards rather than culture.


A year-in-review can also serve as a powerful tool for thanksgiving. You can acknowledge and appreciate ordinary moments, experiences, achievements, and relationships.

Reframe failure:

Reflecting on the past year allows you to identify and learn from mistakes and challenges. It’s an opportunity to be honest, sit with repentance and work out ways to avoid repeating these mistakes. Growth is found in these moments. The resilience forged here changes your life.


Reviewing your year can give insight into the most meaningful and fulfilling activities, relationships or commitments. This can help you make more informed decisions about how to spend your time and energy in the coming year.

Emotional processing:

Journalling can be a therapeutic outlet for processing emotions and stress. It allows you to express your feelings and experiences, helping you better understand them. It is an opportunity to write a psalm of your lived experience that invites God to come and reframe the season with his power and presence.

Record keeping:

Keeping a year-in-review journal can serve as a valuable record of your life journey. It allows you to look back and see how you’ve evolved, the challenges you’ve overcome and the progress you’ve made over the years. It is a powerful way to create intimacy in your marriage or friendship circle, being honest about what the season has been like for you.

Find ease:

Writing about your experiences and emotions can reduce stress and promote a sense of relief. It’s a way to unload your thoughts and concerns, which can be especially helpful during challenging times. We all need to find pace and presence in a hurting world. You were not designed to carry the weight of the world by yourself.

Clarity of God’s priorities:

The process of reviewing your year can provide clarity about your values, priorities and aspirations. This clarity can help you set a direction for the future and stay focused on what truly matters to you, asking God for his perspective to shift and reorientate your own.

What if you took time to talk through questions with a mentor or pastor for insight?


Regularly reviewing your year can help you hold yourself accountable for your actions and progress. It can motivate you to work on self-improvement and personal development.

Journalling and reviewing your year are powerful tools for personal growth, introspection and self-improvement. This allows you to make more intentional choices, develop a deeper understanding of yourself and create a roadmap for the year ahead.

What if you took time to talk through questions with a mentor or pastor for insight?

The author of the gospel of Matthew encourages us to find a way to ease into God’s grace in this season and find a new pathway of hope for the New Year: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message).

May this season treat you kindly.

May you find your voice to describe what has held you in a holding pattern.

May your ambition hold space for contemplation.

May you have the courage to be honest.

May you find God’s peace that surpasses understanding.

Begin again with vulnerable courage; new grace and territories will be discovered, pioneer with humility, with new stories that need to be written. Seek out new ways for these new days. Smile at the lessons left in the past days and pick up your chosen expressions, ready to serve him again.

Amanda Viviers is an author, public speaker, radio presenter and Executive Director of Compassion Australia’s creative studio. Driven by a passion for justice, she loves finding innovative ways to support children in developing countries and to help people find their voice. 

Amanda’s Gentle Rhythms journal – a downloadable end-of-year retreat resource – is available from her